I didn’t run a marathon last weekend, but it felt like it for someone who has never trained for long-distance running until this past January. I always played basketball when I was young, and basketball is a series of fast sprints, not methodical long-distance running. I ran in the Gate River 15k Run here in Jacksonville, which is a pretty well-known 15k run. I didn’t run it to compete, I ran it because I had never done something like that before, and I wanted to say that I had done it. I ran it in about an hour and 40 minutes, which is pretty slow, but I was proud of myself for jogging the whole time. Like the personal finance nerd that I am, I was thinking about how running long distances relates to becoming wealthy. The obvious cliche is that becoming wealthy is like running a marathon. The slow, methodical individual will become more wealthy than those that have short spurts of wealth building over a period of time. But, there was something else that I learned about money management when training for and running a long distance.
Momentum and encouragement will help you achieve your financial goals two-fold.
When I trained for the run, the longest run that I completed without walking was 6 miles. I kept telling people that I would probably just walk a little bit after I hit the six miles, and they all kept telling me that it’s so much different when you run on race day. I didn’t believe them, but then I started running and watching all of the people cheering for us and finding myself being motivated by the fact that 50 and 60 year olds were running beside me. I thought to myself, “if they’re not stopping to walk, I sure as hell am not going to stop either!” It was the encouragement of others and the momentum of running with thousands of other people that helped me to complete the run without walking.
You can be amazing at crunching and analyzing numbers, and picking value stocks, but if you don’t combine the human component of personal finance to your wealth building strategy, you’ll have a much harder time reaching your financial goals. Dave Ramsey teaches people to pay off their smallest debts first, because it helps build momentum for paying off larger debts. He knows that the math tells us we should pay off our highest interest rate debts first, but if you get crazy and pay off your debts in 12 to 18 months, the interest rate doesn’t really matter. Sorry for referencing Ramsey for the second time this week, but his debt snowball method of paying off debt it a great example for the power of momentum.
Surrounding yourself with people that encourage you to change your financial habits is also helpful for achieving your goals. People with no money will make fun of you for sticking to a budget, passing up going out to eat, and clipping coupons. But rich people will applaud you for it, probably because they did those little things to help them become wealthy. They were once in your shoes, and they know that encouraging others goes a long way. Don’t listen to those with no money for sound financial advice. Don’t listen to me when it comes to your finances. Read the information on blogs and verify it with your own research. Come to your own conclusions about managing your money. If you truly pursue wealth building the real way, the running a marathon way, you’ll find that the human component has a bigger role than you think.